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Lie detector testing expands in anthrax probe

From Kelli Arena and Kevin Bohn
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Expanded lie-detector testing is on the way for workers at two of the U.S. Army's top secret research facilities that deal with anthrax, FBI officials said Tuesday, as authorities try to find those responsible for sending anthrax through the mail.

The polygraph exams, which already were administered to a limited number of workers at Fort Detrick, Maryland, will be given to an undisclosed number of additional scientists and others with access to the sites.

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In-Depth: Anthrax 
 

Investigators said they have been frustrated at not being able to find a suspect.

"Hopefully this will unleash other leads," an FBI official said.

The officials did not disclose how many people might be tested under the expanded polygraph examinations.

Fort Detrick, near the presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland, is a research facility where defenses against germ warfare and other substances are developed. Dugway Proving Grounds, about 80 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, Utah, is where experts perform tests on survivability against nuclear, chemical and biological substances.

Each site maintains an active program involving anthrax.

Small quantities of anthrax routinely have been produced at Dugway and then shipped to the Army's biodefense center at Fort Detrick, the Army said recently.

Fort Detrick, home to the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, also has anthrax samples from other sources.

Investigators began interviewing employees at Fort Detrick after anthrax-laced letters were sent to members of Congress in Washington and to television network offices in New York last year. Along the way, anthrax spores leaking from the letters contaminated post office buildings in Washington and New Jersey.

Two Washington postal workers died of inhaled anthrax, as did two women thought to have been infected from the mail. At least 13 people developed either skin or respiratory anthrax, but they have recovered.

An employee at the Florida offices of a national tabloid newspaper also died of inhaled anthrax. No contaminated letter was found in connection with that death, but traces of anthrax were found in the company's mailroom.

The strain of anthrax found in letters mailed to U.S. Sens. Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota, and Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, is called Ames, after the Iowa city where researchers first isolated it.

Scientists at Fort Detrick obtained a sample of the Ames anthrax from the U.S. Agriculture Department in the early 1980s for vaccine testing and gave samples to at least five other labs.



 
 
 
 






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